After issuing a false press release about a rebranding effort to focus on its commitment to electric cars and then insisting to several media outlets that its name change was legitimate, Volkswagen on Tuesday admitted that the entire ploy had been a pre-April Fool's Day ruse.
The confusion began on Monday when CNBC
first spotted a press release on the company's website announcing that the company was changing its name to "Voltswagen" to highlight its commitment to electric-based transportation. Though the press release was discovered on March 29, the release was dated April 29 — making it seem as if the release had been published in error. The company deleted the original press release hours after CNBC's report.
While the release garnered skepticism because of the proximity to April Fool's Day, an anonymous source affiliated with the company insisted to several media outlets, including CNBC and USA Today, that the name change was legitimate.
Volkswagen then re-published the press release on Tuesday, further legitimatizing the commitment to a name change.
But in the early evening hours on Tuesday, the company came clean and admitted that it has no plans to change its name.
"Volkswagen of America will not be changing its name to Voltswagen," the company said in a statement sent to CNN. "The renaming was designed to be an announcement in the spirit of April Fool's Day, highlighting the launch of the all-electric ID.4 SUV and signaling our commitment to bringing electric mobility to all. We will provide additional updates on this matter soon."
A company spokesperson also told the Wall Street Journal that the company "didn't mean to mislead anyone."
While some companies have issued fake press releases for April Fool's Day in the past, it's rare to see such a ruse held in the days leading up to the holiday.
The confusion comes as the company continues to repair its image after a 2015 scandal in which it cheated on government emissions tests that led to some vehicles producing illegal amounts of pollutants.